Adventures in Job

Adventures in Job

Introduction
The Bible is a very interesting library of ancient writings. It explores BIG questions with various
types of literary devices. As you read this compilation of books, you must take note of the kind
of literary genre you are experiencing. Think about a library. You must pay attention. Where
are you in the library? Job is a truly amazing book. This book is made up of dense Hebrew
poetry. Did you hear that last statement? What did I say? Job is poetry. The poetry found in
Job is very dense. It is very thick and heavy. You can’t just bust open this book, speed read,
and expect to get it in one reading. You really need to read it multiple times and meditate on
the struggles presented in the book. Also, it is Hebrew poetry. That means it is coming from a
foreign world and perspective. You really can’t expect a consumer driven individualistic society
that flies the “me first banner” to pick up on the subtleties and ambiguities of dense Hebrew
poetry.

So, what am I trying to say?

Are you reading Job? How is it going? Are you getting it? Does it make sense?

Well, I am reading Job. This is not my first time reading it. I hope it won’t be the last time.
Honestly, I am having a hard time with it. I still don’t completely get it. The answers to the big
questions that this book explores still evade me. The answers seem somewhat elusive. How
about you? Now you might be one of those people that have all the answers. You might be
like some of Job’s friends. If you think you have all figured out, then great and good for you.
However, I believe there might be a few in this room that don’t have it figured out just yet.
I believe the book of Job is like an expedition. It is a foreign land that presents many unique
challenges for us all. When we first venture into this strange place full of struggle and pain, we
leave with more questions than answers initially. But, as we experience life… As we gain a few
pounds over the years… As our eyesight and memory begins to fade…. As things don’t go our
way… As the wounds of pain and disappointment begin to leave scars…. As we hurt, this
great book begins to answer a few questions.

Is there pain here? Is there struggle in this room? Are any of you hurting? Have you ever felt
like randomly shouting, “Why?” Well, you are not alone. Let me repeat, you are not alone.
As we rub shoulders with the text this morning, I am not thinking a 20 minute sermon will fix
anything. I don’t have the complete and palatable answer to whatever kind of “why” question
you have. This will not be the quick fix sermon for you. All I can offer is some guiding
principles.

I must start with one of my favorite verses from Job: Job 28:28
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.

Don’t fear the flu. Don’t fear the future. Don’t let the past haunt you.

Things won’t click until you fear God. Things cannot make sense until you fear Him first.
Google. Siri. Alexa. They do not have the answers. Go ahead get a PHD, you won’t have all
the answers. Wisdom is God’s. He is the sole inventor, proprietor, and manufacturer of
wisdom.

If you bring your questions and curiosities to me, guess whats going to happen? I will redirect
you. I’ll try to figure what the Bible says first. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll tell you to take it to
God in prayer. I guarantee you’ll be in better hands.

I will also beg you to turn from sin. Now, I know God’s grace and mercy is deep. I recognize,
appreciate, and value Jesus’ atoning sacrifice immensely. But, we need to catch something
else from Job 28:28. To turn away from evil demonstrates understanding. Fearing God leads
to wisdom. Understanding God leads to avoiding evil behavior.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. I can confidently tell you that fools despise
God’s wisdom and instruction. I would also remind you: blessed is the man who walks not in
the counsel of the wicked, not stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but
his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night.

We have to start this adventure in Job realizing that all of our BIG questions must be laid at the
feet of God first.

I am reminded of Flavor Flav’s classic rap song from 1990. Do any of you remember Public
Enemy?

Runnin’ for your life, by the knife
Runnin’ from your wife, yikes!
You should’ve stuck with home
Your mind to blow your dome
It was you that chose your doom
You built a maze you can’t get through
I tried to help you all I can
Now I can’t do nuttin’ for you man

[Hook]
I can’t do nuttin’ for ya man
You got all these people on your back now
I can’t do nuttin’ for ya man
Flavor Flav got problems of his own
I can’t do nuttin’ for you man
Go lean on Shell’s Answer Man
I can’t do nuttin’ for ya man
You jumped out of the jelly into a jam

Now, just like Flavor Flav says, I can’t do nuttin’ for ya man. Flavor Flav can’t either, but God
can. Go lean on Him as the ANSWER MAN. He can do something for you. Take your pain,
hurt, struggles, and questions to Him. You will be in better hands.

Job 28:28, that’s where we will pretty much start and stop today. Keep it close.

Job 1-2

I want to review the story a little bit. We do not have the time to unpack all the details and the
theological issues they present.

How do we start in chapters 1 and 2? We find a man named Job from the land of Uz. He is
blameless, upright, fears God, and turns away from evil. He is also rich. Job is also a great
dad in the spiritual sense. How do I know that? Well, he would rise up early in the morning to
offer burnt offerings for his grown children. Pretty good example for us parents, right?

Then there is a shift in the story. We move into a scene where there is an interaction between
God and the “sons of God” – most assume these are angelic beings in God’s presence. One of
the sons of God is called satan. Now is this the same dude we call the devil? If so, that is
pretty weird – sort of hard to handle, right? How can Satan be in God’s presence? What is
going on?

This is one of the first sticky issues in Job. This is also where a lot of people get hung up! I
think I can semi-confidently state that the meaning of the book of Job will not be found in the
first two chapters. You can camp out there if you want, but that is not what the writer of this
poetical book intended to happen.

I do want to say something about the word “satan” – what does it mean? Adversary. That is it.
Now, some want to say it is a proper noun. As in, THE superhuman adversary of God – the
fallen angel. Just to be somewhat clear. Scholars do not know for certain if that is THE
superhuman adversary of God who is a fallen angel or just an angel that is adversarial in nature
in order to move the plot along.

We do know that God is meeting with the sons of God. One of them is called satan, or
adversary.

God initiates the interaction with this adversary by saying, “Have you considered my servant
Job?” Then the plot thickens. The adversary says Job is only good because God takes care
of him. God allows the adversary to destroy Job’s life piece by piece in order to demonstrate
Job’s faithfulness. The adversary starts by attacking Job’s children and wealth, then eventually
is allowed to attack Job’s body. This is the second sticky point for me. Why does God allow
this to happen? Spoiler alert!! The book never really answers that question directly. If people
don’t get stuck on the satan piece, then they usually get hung up on God allowing the
adversary to strike Job with multiple disasters. This is a tough situation. Tough for Job
definitely, but also tough on the reader desperately looking for answers about the reason for
suffering.

Once again, I encourage you to move on in the book.

At the tail end of chapter two, there is something good going on. Job’s three friends show up
to console him during these desperate times. They actually do something good. Their there to
show sympathy and comfort him. They cry with him and just mourn with him for seven days.

JOB 3-31

The next (29) chapters is where the dense Hebrew poetry comes into play! You get cycles of
laments from Job and a response from his friends.

I will not focus on this, but I would challenge you to think through the words of Job. He really
struggles. Some people always want to focus on the positive statements in the Bible, but
Job’s words here are tough. You really get to see the reality of suffering and what it does to a
person. He is all over the place with his words. One minute he is saying good stuff about God
and seems so strong and faithful, then the next minute he is TOTALLY losing it. I want to
remind you that it is not a sin to struggle. It is not bad to release emotion. It is simply human.
I would also like you to recognize that Job seeks counsel with God. Over and over again, he
cries out to God because his friends end up being worthless counselors.

I believe this is where the book of Job starts to unveil its purpose.

Job and his friends go back and forth for (29) chapters trying to figure out what is going on. It
is like a tennis match that never ends. Back and forth, back and forth, no end in sight!

The are struggling with (3) claims:

1. God is Just and Good
2. Retribution Principle – good deeds rewarded and bad deeds are punished
3. Job’s Innocence

Only (2) can be true at the same time. So, which claim is not true? For the friends, they
believe God is just and they believe in the retribution principle. Job believes that God is just,
but he knows he is innocent. Also, remember God also says Job is innocent! So, what’s the
deal. What is going on?

Once again, a sticky situation for me. What do I teach my kids? If do good, you get? If you
do bad, you get? Ooh, this book is starting to rub me the wrong way, what about you?
Is the retribution principle 100% true?

I think this is the beginning of the conversation in the book of Job. Not the end, but the
beginning.

READ through Job’s final appeal in chapter 31.

Job 32-37

Job’s final appeal quiets Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Job shuts them down, but a young buck
named Elihu can’t handle what Job says. Elihu feels that Job has disrespected God.
Now, in defense of Job’s friends, if you read what they say throughout the book, most of us
would be like, “Yeah, that sounds right to me!”

Job 38-41

Finally, you get a response from God!! After hearing all these long diatribes from Job and his
buddies, we finally get to hear from God. Does he fill in all the blanks for Job? Does God sit
him and down and explain every detail? Is the conversation between God and the adversary
ever mentioned? Nope. Nada. God doesn’t give him of the details. Zero. Absolutely no
explanation.

What does that say to you? Makes me think of the song “Farther Along” – does Job get to
understand why? (SING HYMN)

There are some things that may not be explained on this side of heaven. Job didn’t get all the
answers. That is not the point of this book.

So, what is the point?

Think about Job 38:3 and 40:7. What does God do? He says, get ready, let me ask you a
question? He answers Job with a series of questions.

If you try to boil it down, I think it can be said like this – “Are you able to comprehend it?”
If God were to explain all the answers to you, could you really get it? Nope. God is
unfathomable.

We cannot fully explore or understand God and his ways. He truly is incomprehensible.
Your response to that fact will determine your future. When faced with the unfathomable
nature of God and his creation, you will do one of two things. You will either bow the knee in
His presence or you will run away from Him in pursuit of your own knowledge and wisdom. If
you choose the later, then trouble is coming.

John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for
eternal life.

If you run around looking for answers without God, you will lose your life. You will ultimately
find nothing. No true wisdom. No true knowledge. No real answers. Once you hand over
your life to God, you find everything. You gain wisdom. You gain knowledge. You end up
finding answers to your BIG questions.

That is the point. Not that your going to get all the answers, but that you seek the one that has
all the answers. Job continually sought God in the middle of the BIG questions.

Job 42

Look at Job’s response to God’s questioning – Job 40:4 and 42:1-6.

The book concludes with God rebuking Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. God was angry with
them. He says, “you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
So, back to the claims. Which two are right? God is just and Good. Job was innocent. Here
we see that the retribution principle doesn’t always hold water.

Bad stuff happens to good people. Sometimes terrible and nasty things happen to really good
people. There are also situations proving good things happen to bad people here on this earth.
Do we always understand why? Nope! Is that the point of this book? Nope, I don’t think so.
So, once again, what’s the point?

We finish where we started.

Job 28:28 Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.
Here is the point today. Very simply put – CLING TO GOD.

Take your pain, hurt, struggles, and questions to Him. If you need to scream, go to God. If you
need to cry, go to God. If you need sulk in your frustration and sorrow, do it in His presence.
You will be in better hands.

READ Psalm 63:1-8

Adventures in Job